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Sep 10

SONIA – “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You”

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#631, 22nd July 1989

A theme we’ll come back to relentlessly when we reach the 00s: people assume reality pop talent shows are (or rather, ought to be) about talent, when in fact they’re about narrative. The records sell initially because we’ve accompanied the singer on a story whose ending requires that they sell: it’s what happens next that’s the problem. Of course, this has always been part of pop’s dynamics – Sonia’s career runs along similar lines, only without that pesky four months of television to sit through.

Stock Aitken And Waterman had always made music for everygirl: there was very little glamour in their female-fronted pop, the distance between the images of the stars and the teenagers they assumed were buying the records was deliberately tiny. But Mel and Kim and the Reynolds Girls had been didactic; Kylie was a star who played ordinary girls. It’s only now, with SAW’s fortunes at their zenith, that they are seen to let one of their audience make a record. Sonia’s entire hook (at the time) was that she was ordinary – determined and talented, but very much one of the listeners with a good enough voice to attract the attention of Pete Waterman in his DJ persona. As it happened, Sonia Evans’ background – though generic in one sense – wasn’t quite as unremarkable as the publicity pretended. She’d been at stage school since she was 8, and after the initial leg-up she found a niche recording oldies before a career in musicals and panto. They might as well have got Bonnie Langford in. But of course it suited Waterman to promote this everyday image, and himself as the man who could make a star out of anybody singing anything.

And there’s the rub: “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You” is very thin fare. It’s not really the fault of Sonia, who does have an okay voice – a little fuller and smokier than Kylie, the obvious vocal model, though with no real presence beyond the belted “youu-ooo”s on the chorus. She doesn’t seem to have any interesting ideas about how to deliver the song, either, but then she’s not got much to work with: after some opening bars that nod frustratingly towards house music the ‘proper’ drums come in and the song slides into automatic. As usual, the title says it all: Sonia is all dogged persistence in the face of an unfeeling fella, and on the verses sounds positively perky about it thanks to those annoying high notes at the end of each line. Sonia approaches it with gusto but she can’t stop the record seeming flat, and even at the time this seemed like hubris on Waterman’s part – a man who’d come to believe the “Hit Factory” hype. It’s taken them almost a dozen number ones, but Stock Aitken And Waterman have finally got to the top with the sort of track unkind critics assumed they always made.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    MikeMCSG on 29 Sep 2010 #

    #46 I thought Brass started earlier – round about 81 – but a wikipedia check reveals you’re right so I accept the correction.

  2. 52

    Mike@51: fair enough — I was surprised it went on as long as it did, but my parents (dad) esp. adored it. Of course it was Granada, so probably starred members of Crispy Ambulance at some point.


    “The Hacienda must be built!”

    I miss “When Did You Last See Your Trousers”: or more precisely, the idea that a show with such a name might be of cultural interest…

  3. 53
    wichita lineman on 29 Sep 2010 #

    When The Whistle Blows, Ricky Gervais’ fake sitcom, also makes me pine (slightly) for such gormless tv. Were it ever to be made, it would be a perfect comeback vehicle for Sonia.

    And if you think it could never happen, I wouldn’t put it past these chaps.

  4. 54
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 Sep 2010 #

    Some truly grim sitcoms:

    “You Must Be The Husband” (had the cheek to use “Take Five” as its theme)
    “Boomin’ Marvellous” (with my old footy buddie Clive Mantle. But it wasn’t)
    “Home To Roost” (a major blot on the wonderful landscape of John Thaw)
    “A Small Problem” (oddball plot about a state discriminating against short people. Not written by Randy Newman)

  5. 55
    punctum on 30 Sep 2010 #

    Odd how when John Thaw went it was all about Morse and no mention whatsoever of: “Ey oop lad, ‘appens thee’d best be gettin’ thee ‘air cut, else tha’ll be lookin’ like that Boy George fella off the telly like!”

  6. 56
    Billy Smart on 30 Sep 2010 #

    ‘Home To Roost’ is actually okay, argues a Doctor of Television Studies – John Thaw was an underrated comic actor, and although the scripts weren’t quite of the same standard, the situations and lines were recognisable as the product of the same writer who gave us ‘Rising Damp’, ‘Only When I Laugh’ and ‘Duty Free’.

  7. 57
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 Sep 2010 #

    # 56 – It’s all a matter opinion, isn’t it, Billy? For my part, I simply can’t believe that Home To Roost” was from the same pen as “Rising Damp”, an absolute masterpiece and ITV’s finest comic hour by some distance, imho.

    # 55 – I think you argue my point, MC. I have often wondered how Morse would have got on with Jack Regan. Jack gets seconded to Thames Valley for a spell…I have a feeling that plenty of refreshment would have been taken, if nothing else.

  8. 58
    Billy Smart on 30 Sep 2010 #

    John Thaw’s TV career told a tale of successive promotions – Military Policeman in Redcap, Detective in The Sweeney, Detective Sergeant Morse, Kavanagh QC! Although I’m not sure how his appearance as a criminal in long-forgotten 1974 LWT sitcom ‘Thick As Thieves’, alongside Bob Hoskins, would fit into this narrative.

  9. 59
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 Sep 2010 #

    He also turned up in an early episode of “The Avengers” in a kilt! Can you imagine Regan doing that?

  10. 60
    Billy Smart on 30 Sep 2010 #

    The most mindboggling Thaw casting is as a thinly-disguised Neil Kinnock in David Hare’s ‘The Absence of War’!

  11. 61
    Martin Skidmore on 4 Oct 2010 #

    Worst sitcom of the ’80s for me was Troubles and Strife, starring Tarrant out of Blake’s 7 as a vicar and some characters pinched from other sitcoms (Olive from On The Buses, Maureen from Please Sir, etc.).

  12. 62
    Steve Mannion on 4 Oct 2010 #

    Don’t forget The River, starring David Essex. Or do.

  13. 63
    wichita lineman on 4 Oct 2010 #

    Was The River meant to be a comedy? That’s a serious question.

  14. 64
    Alan on 4 Oct 2010 #

    My memory has merged “A Small Problem” (with him out of the Young Ones in it) and “Small World” by David Lodge. (Probs cos they were only a year apart.)

  15. 65
    Steve Mannion on 4 Oct 2010 #

    Lineman, it was and surely had the laugh track to ‘prove’it (did any comedy series around this time NOT have a laugh track? uh-oh I smell another list…), but it was certainly on the gentler/romantic side.

  16. 66
    Billy Smart on 4 Oct 2010 #

    I think that the later episodes of Ripping Yarns were the first BBC comedy programmes to go out without a laugh track, the filmic mood comedy of the earlier ones having been slightly spoiled by the imposition of laughter. But it was standard BBC policy up till then that all programmes made as comedies must include laughter. Nobody talked about ‘generic hybridity’in the old days!

  17. 67
    mapman132 on 28 Jul 2014 #

    If there was an icon for “number 1 when you first visited the UK”, I could use it here. Unlike “Back To Life”, this didn’t go on to be a US hit. Even though I don’t remember consciously hearing it, YNSMLY must’ve penetrated my brain while in England since it seems vaguely familiar 25 years later. Or maybe I’m just confusing it with every other SAW record ever made. Anyway, one more entry to go in Mapman’s Salisbury Trilogy….

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